One taught herself digital illustration, and now teaches students to lean into their creativity. Another mixes the colors and patterns of her materials, so she never makes the same thing twice. A third got inspired after being snowbound for three days.
These are some of the people behind the art that will be for sale at several holiday art markets in the next few weeks — events designed to offer unusual, one-of-a-kind gift possibilities for holiday gift-giving. (Click here for a roundup of 10 holiday markets around Utah.)
Megan Hindman: ‘I just love cute things’
Illustrator Megan Hindman’s bright and playful style is inspired by fantasy and nature, as well as pop culture, she said.
“I just love cute things,” she said. “I don’t like dark, depressing things. I feel like there’s already enough sad stuff going on in the world.”
Her approach to making art, she said, is that “I just make things that I personally want to exist and they don’t exist yet.” For example, she said she likes to draw powerful women wearing knight’s armor because “you don’t see it very often in history.”
Hindman likes to create art that makes her happy, she said, whether that’s an illustration of two characters from the cartoon “Adventure Time,” or a sticker sheet of all the characters from the vampire comedy series “What We Do In the Shadows.” Much of her work has a sly sense of humor, too, like a sticker of a dog that says “Chaotic good boy,” referencing the Dungeons & Dragons alignment system.
Hindman said one of her most important memories is realizing in fourth grade that “I really want to be good at art. So that’s going to be something that I focus on from now on.”
And she also knew she wanted to practice hard to get there. All of her digital illustration skills are self-taught, and now she draws on her iPad “pretty much every day.”
In college, Hindman said, she had to defend her illustrations to her professors as being legitimate art. Now, as an art teacher, she’s had many students tell her that she’s the first instructor “that made them feel like their art wasn’t a waste of time, which broke my heart to hear,” she said.
Hindman said she likes being able to show young people that if they want to draw anime fan art, “you can absolutely make a living doing that if you want to.”
Hindman said she encourages young people “to follow their interests and draw what they want to draw because they’ll definitely end up having their own artistic journey.”
At the Craft Lake City Holiday Market, she will be selling illustration prints, stickers, sticker sheets, window hangers, tote bags, pins, earrings and keychains.
Follow Megan Hindman and her work on Instagram as @tabbyaddams.
Jazmin Gallegos: ‘I’ve always been a pretty big paper nerd’
The method with which Jazmin Gallegos binds her handmade books is old. Really old.
Coptic binding, which uses stitches to bind the book and leaves the spine open, was first produced in the 2nd century A.D. by Egyptian Christians called Copts, according to the Cornell University Library. The linked stitches form a chain that allows you to see the groups of stacks of paper that make up the book’s structure.
But even though Coptic binding is so old, that doesn’t mean Gallegos’ books have to be treated preciously. In fact, Gallegos said, she likes to see how people use her books, whether they become a journal, a wedding guest book or a sketchbook. The binding style makes the book lie open flat, lending itself to many uses.
Gallegos creates blank books made with either lined paper, dotted paper, graph paper or blank paper, all waiting to be filled according to the user.
She said she never creates a book that reuses the same combination of page paper, cover material, inner cover paper and thread color, making each book entirely unique. Sometimes the cover is all one color, or made with decorative paper. She’ll even use recycled maps as the pages. “I’ve always been a pretty big paper nerd,” she said.
Gallegos is an instructor in the Book Arts Program at the University of Utah, but she creates her Coptic books as her “personal art practice.” She said bookbinding has become a simplified way to have an artistic outlet, and is also a form of art therapy for her.
She said she made “a ton” of books in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. While not being able to go out as much, she said, bookmaking “was a way for me to be still but also be making something.”
At the UMFA Holiday Market, Gallegos said she will have blank books and four different themed books: a cocktail recipe book, a fishing log, a hiking log, and a recipe book that’s ready to be filled with your own recipes.
Lexi Dowdall: ‘I just love sharing Utah with people’
The watercolor paintings of ski life created by Lexi Dowdall contain an extra-special ingredient: snowmelt.
As part of her Paint by Powder project, Dowdall has collected melted snow from all of Utah’s ski resorts and is slowly creating a watercolor painting with each sample of liquid. She has nine paintings completed and hopes to make that 12 for the Red Butte Garden Holiday Open House.
The first time Dowdall painted with water from a specific place was on a trip down the Green River, through the Gates of Lodore in northwestern Colorado and into Utah. She’d brought a watercolor kit with her, and the only water she had access to was the water of the river.
“It just felt so cool to paint these canyon scenes of us floating down the river,” Dowdall said. “I felt like I could create a more visceral connection between the viewer and the landscape I was trying to capture.”
Dowdall began painting with snowmelt after she had to shelter in place at Alta for 60 hours in February 2021 because of high avalanche danger. She said the skiing after that storm abated was “one of the best ski days of my life,” with about 100 inches of snow.
“The feeling of [that] day, I want to just bottle it up and share it with everyone who couldn’t be there,” Dowdall said.
The ski scenes painted by Dowdall capture the chilly majesty of mountains in the winter and the unexpectedly colorful sunsets that can happen in a world of white. A painting of the A-frame Brighton Store looks like Santa’s workshop, with its colorful windows and gingerbread house-like trim.
As someone whose parents took her camping for the first time when she was only 6 weeks old, Dowdall said her biggest source of inspiration is getting into the outdoors in Utah.
“It would take 10 lifetimes to explore all the different landscapes and such of Utah,” she said. “And I just love sharing Utah with people.”
At the Red Butte Holiday Open House & Art Fair, Dowdall will be selling art prints, watercolor landscapes mounted on wooden blocks, and miniature watercolor painting lockets. She will also be selling her work at T.F. Brewing’s Christkindlmarkt, and at the Alta Community Enrichment Holiday Art Market on Dec. 9-10, 2-7 p.m., at the Our Lady of the Snows Center, across the street from the Alta Lodge.
Follow Lexi Dowdall and her work on Instagram at @kapowder.